Defining “Evangelical” Is Already Difficult But This Makes It Impossible

…The second factor bolstering evangelicalism on surveys is that more people are embracing the label who have no attachment to Protestant Christianity. For example, the share of Catholics who also identified as evangelicals (or born again) rose to 15 percent in 2018 from 9 percent in 2008. That same pattern appears with Muslims. In fact, there’s evidence that the share of Orthodox Christians, Hindus and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who identify as evangelical is larger today than it was just a decade ago.

Yet these non-Protestants are embracing the evangelical label for slightly different reasons. Protestants and non-Protestants have a strong affinity for the Republican Party and the policies of Donald Trump, but non-Protestant evangelicals are much more religiously devout. For instance, half of Muslims who attend services at a mosque more than once a week and align with the G.O.P. self-identify as evangelical. (Just 20 percent of Republican Muslims attend mosque once a year.) In essence, many Americans are coming to the understanding that to be very religiously engaged and very politically conservative means that they are evangelical, even if they don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ.

The rapid rise of the nonreligious and non-Protestant evangelical has meant that the tradition did not fade in any significant way over the last decade. But instead, what it means to be evangelical is being radically remade. It used to be that when many people thought about evangelicalism, they conjured up an image of a fiery preacher imploring them to accept Jesus. Now the data indicate that more and more Americans are conflating evangelicalism with Republicanism — and melding two forces to create a movement that is not entirely about politics or religion but power. Read more»

Ryan Burge | “Why ‘Evangelical’ Is Becoming Another Word for ‘Republican’” | October 26, 2021 | New York Times (HT: Anne Kennedy)

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6 comments

  1. Darryl was right!! BTW, and this has happened before, I cannot access that NY Times website without a subscription.

  2. If Baptists can be “Reformed” then what’s to stop Roman Catholics or Muslims from being “Evangelical”? The zeitgeist is that whatever you identify as, then that’s what you are, notwithstanding inconvenient things like facts.

  3. Note to self: one more reason to eliminate the word “evangelical” from my vocabulary. While there remain places it remains somewhat useful, such as amongst Australian Anglicans, it only adds to confusion in the West.

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